Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Postmodernism Now?

Postmodernism & Trends Forecasting

I went to V&A last evening to attend a talk by Lucy Norris, the founder  and Creative Director of Pret-a-rever, an interactive online shopping magazine focused on trends.

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Sequin jacket, 1991

This talk was one of my highlights of the Postmodernism exhibition currently on display at the museum.

It has been quite a few years since I left the London College of Fashion but this is what I miss the most, having someone who really knows what they're talking about stimulating your mind with a series of thoughts and questions.

It was a comprehensive approach to postmodernism, from music and art direction to fashion, which also focused on the question raised by the co-curator, Glenn Adamson, is postmodernism still on today? 

Jean Paul Goude, Grace Jones Revised and Updated, 1978

Norris also gave Lady Gaga as an example, showing us a video on YouTube where she faces the press as her male alter-ego, Joe. But my favourite was definitely Grace Jones being interviewed in 1985.

It's not as shocking for us now as it was for the interviewer but the meaning of her words is as relevant today as it was back then. We tend to categorise ourselves and others into little draws with labels in order to figure each other out.

But this is a very limited approach and I was always amazed about marketing, are we that predictable? With the advance of technology and media, the individual is more and more prominent, being able to choose what to watch and what to listen according to a particular frame of mind and time.

Antonia San Juan, the transsexual in All About My Mother

Boundaries tend to blur and you can be whoever you choose to be. As you hear in All About My Mother, an Almodovar film, "you are as authentic as you are closer of becoming who you dreamt to be".

It's ironic that luxury brands promote exclusivity which by definition is being special and not conforming with the mainstream when in fact, they're global, they offer the same 'vision' whether you are in Asia, Europe or the Middle East, even if they make a few adjustments.


It's all a representation and isn't this postmodernism? Playing up and subverting different concepts? And how does this translate into trends? According to Norris, you can expect geometric shapes, mixed up proportions and colour blocking in fashion. 

You can already see the postmodernist influence in the fashion editorial of How to Spend it magazine, of Financial Times.

Norris said "neon lights are the DNA of postmodernism", which I thought it was curious. Am I seduced by neon lights now because of what they bring to my mind or is it because I'm just capturing what is going on at the moment?

I came out of the talk just as I came out of the exhibition with quite a few unanswered questions, but it's definitely food for thought!   

Postmodernism exhibition at V&A

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